Russia Ukraine war latest: Zelensky visits frontline as Putin says fighting ‘extremely difficult’

‘I want peace’: Nine-year-old Ukrainian refugee in England shares her Christmas wish

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has made an unannounced visit to the besieged city of Bakhmut, meeting with troops and handing out awards.

Bakhmut has faced months of bombardment and has suffered a lot of damage as a key target for Russia in the Donetsk region of Ukraine. So far Ukrainian forces have held back Russia’s advance.

It comes as the Vladimir Putin, has admitted the situation in four areas of Ukraine that Moscow has sought to annex was proving tough. “The situation in the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions is extremely difficult,” the Russian president said in a video address to security workers.

Elsewhere, new footage shows Putin likely trying to “deflect responsibility” for failures in the war in Ukraine.

The UK Ministry of Defense shared how Putin was filmed on 16 December “meeting with a number of senior military officers including Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov”.

It added how the “choreographed” meeting was likely intended to “demonstrate collective responsibility for the special military operation” and “deflect Putin’s responsibility for military failure, high fatality rates and increasing public dissatisfaction from mobilization”.

On the war front lines, a Russian artillery offensive struck 25 towns and villages around Bakhmut, along with Avdiivka and another northeastern town, Kupiansk.

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Ukrainian government introduces new resolution to prioritize agricultural facilities amid energy issues

The Ukrainian government is asking the agriculture industry to identify critical facilities that need to be prioritized to receive energy supplies amid continued power outages in the country.

A new government resolution identifies companies in the “food processing industry and agriculture complex, (and in the) operation of irrigation systems and canals” as needing priority energy supplies.

Russia has been targeting energy infrastructure across Ukraine since October and there have been a number of missile attacks leading to blackouts.

Lucy Scoulding20 December 2022 12:26

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Speaking with Russian security agencies operating in Ukraine late on Monday during Moscow’s Security Services Day, he said: “Yes, it is difficult for you now. The situation in the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, is extremely difficult.”

The comments came after Kyiv renewed calls for more weapons after Russian drones hit energy targets across Ukraine last week and as fears grow that Russia is preparing for a fresh invasion from the north.

Lucy Scoulding20 December 2022 11:49

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Zelensky visits the frontline in Bakhmut

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky has today made an unannounced visit to the frontline in the city of Bakhmut, where Ukrainian forces have been in battle with Russian troops for months.

It’s been reported that Zelensky met with troops and handed out awards as the war continues.

Bakhmut has faced months of bombardment and has suffered a lot of damage as a key target for Russia in the Donetsk region of Ukraine.

So far Ukrainian forces have held back Russia’s advance.

Bakhmut has faced months of bombardment from Russian forces

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Bakhmut has faced months of bombardment from Russian forces

(Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Lucy Scoulding20 December 2022 11:30

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US Congressional leaders unveiled a $1.7 trillion spending package early today that includes another large round of aid to Ukraine, a nearly 10% boost in defense spending and roughly $40 billion to assist communities across the country recovering from drought, hurricanes and other natural disasters.

The bill includes about $772.5 billion for non-defense discretionary programs and $858 billion in defense funding.

Lawmakers are working to stuff in as many priorities as they can into what is likely to be the last major bill of the current Congress.

They are racing to complete passage of the bill before a midnight Friday deadline or face the prospect of a partial government shutdown going into the Christmas holiday. Lawmakers leading the negotiations released the details of the bill shortly before 2 am Tuesday.

Lucy Scoulding20 December 2022 11:15

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The United States and its allies clashed with Iran and its ally Russia over Western claims that Tehran is supplying Moscow with drones that have been attacking Ukraine — and the US accused the UN secretary-general of “yielding to Russian threats” and failing to launch an investigation.

At a contentious Security Council meeting Monday on the resolution endorsing the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six major powers, the United States and Iran also accused each other of responsibility for stalled negotiations on the Biden administration rejoining the agreement that former President Donald Trump pulled out of in 2018.

Iran’s UN Ambassador Amir Saeid Iravani insisted Iran’s negotiating team exercised “maximum flexibility” in trying to reach agreement and even introduced an “innovative solution to the remaining issues to break the impasse.” But he claimed the “unrealistic and rigid approach” of the United States led to the current stalled talks on the 2015 agreement, known as the JCPOA.

Lucy Scoulding20 December 2022 11:00

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Soldiers wearing festive costumes give gifts to children on Ukraine’s frontline

A new video shows soldiers giving gifts to children for Christmas on Ukraine’s frontline.

Soldiers wearing festive costumes give gifts to children on Ukraine’s frontline

Lucy Scoulding20 December 2022 10:45

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Ukraine accelerating ‘de-Russification’ efforts

Ukraine is accelerating efforts to erase the vestiges of Soviet and Russian influence from its public spaces by pulling down monuments and renaming hundreds of streets to honor its own artists, poets, soldiers, independence leaders and others — including heroes of this year’s war.

Ukraine is accelerating efforts to erase the vestiges of Soviet and Russian influence from its public spaces

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Ukraine is accelerating efforts to erase the vestiges of Soviet and Russian influence from its public spaces

(Dnipro Region Administration)

Following Moscow’s invasion on Feb. 24 that has killed or injured untold numbers of civilians and soldiers and pummeled buildings and infrastructure, Ukraine’s leaders have shifted a campaign that once focused on dismantling its Communist past into one of “de-Russification.”

Lucy Scoulding20 December 2022 10:30

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Ukrainian officials have said this morning that five people have been killed in the eastern Donetsk and southern Kherson regions, with eight wounded, and that 21 missiles had knocked out power in the southern city of Zaporizhzhia. Those numbers come in the wake of an attack by Russia on Monday using “kamikaze” drones, which were mostly aimed around the capital Kyiv. The unmanned aircraft fly towards their target, then plummet and detonate on impact.

Chris Stevenson20 December 2022 10:15

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Ordinary citizens ‘secret weapon’ in the fight against Putin

The pain inflicted by his torturers was so severe that Volodymyr Zhemchugov tried to bite through the drip keeping him alive in order to blow bubbles of air into his veins and kill himself.

The Soviet-era soldier turned Ukrainian partisan was being held in a prison hospital by Russian-backed proxies. It was 2015 in the eastern city of Luhansk.

Vladimir Putin had recently illegally annexed the Crimean peninsula, war was raging between the Ukrainian military and Russian-backed separatists in Donbas.

And in the middle of this, 52-year-old Zhemchugov had been captured after accidentally crawling over a mine while trying to sabotage a power line to a Russian-backed camp. Both his hands had been blown off and he had been blinded.

Despite the pain, the darkness, and the horrific conditions, the veteran partisan fighter refused to comply. He survived long enough to be released in a prisoner swap and, seven years later, after Putin launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Zhemchugov is finally getting his revenge.

“As a citizen of occupied territory I had all the contacts of people there, and so I started to build a network of saboteurs when Putin invaded Ukraine,” Zhemchugov, a Russian speaker, tells The Independent from Kyiv where he is now based.

Lucy Scoulding20 December 2022 09:54

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War ‘hardly mentioned’ on Putin’s visit to Belarus

Putin visited Belarus on Monday to meet with the Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko.

However, the war in Ukraine was hardly mentioned, according to reports from Reuters.

This is despite the fact that Russia used Belarus as a launchpad for its attack on Kyiv back in February. Russian and Belarusian military activity has been present there for months now.

Serhiy Nayev, the Ukrainian joint forces commander said he believes the talks would focus on discussing “further aggression against Ukraine and the broader involvement of the Belarusian armed forces in the operation against Ukraine, in particular, in our opinion, also on the ground”.

But no journalists invited to ask either Putin or Lukashenko questions asked about the war.

Lukashenko has said his country will not be drawn into the war.

Putin said: “Russia has no interest in absorbing anyone. There is simply no expediency in this… It’s not a takeover, it’s a matter of policy alignment.”

Lukashenko and Putin after talks at the Palace of Independence

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Lukashenko and Putin after talks at the Palace of Independence

(EPA)

Lucy Scoulding20 December 2022 09:15

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